Orlando united after mass shooting
Orlando united after mass killing
The last of the bodies were removed from an Orlando nightclub yesterday as investigators dug into the background of the gunman who killed 49 people and devastated a city.
“We will not be defined by the act of a cowardly hater,” Mayor Buddy Dyer vowed, speaking a day after the deadliest mass shooting in modern US history.
The killer, who died in a gun battle with a SWAT team early on Sunday, was identified as Omar Mateen, a 29-year-old American who authorities say called 911 from the club to claim allegiance to ISIS.
FBI officials said they had investigated him in 2013 and 2014 on suspicion of terrorist sympathies but could not make a case against him.
Mateen opened fire at the Pulse Orlando club with an AR-15 semi-automatic rifle in such close quarters that the bullets could hardly miss. He was gunned down after police used explosives and an armoured vehicle to punch a hole in a wall and allow dozens of club-goers to escape, police said.
Authorities have not said whether Mateen was directed by ISIS or simply acted in sym- pathy with the extremist group. His father suggested another motive: anti-gay hatred. The father said his son recently got angry when he saw two men kissing in Miami. Mateen’s ex-wife said he was mentally ill - specifically, bipolar. Mateen was the son of an Afghan immigrant and lived in Fort Pierce, Florida, where he had worked as a security guard. ISIS’ radio station called Mateen “one of the soldiers of the caliphate in America”.
Thirty-nine of the dead were killed at the club, and the others died at hospitals, the mayor said. By yesterday morning, families of 24 of the victims had been notified, Dyer said.
Mateen exchanged gunfire with 14 police officers at the club and took hostages at one point. In addition to the assault rifle, he also had a handgun. Police Chief John Mina (pictured left) said officers held back for some time because Mateen indicated he had a bomb vest.
ANGUISH: Tributes are laid outside the scene of the mass shooting in Orlando